Frightened, ignorant and distracted— that’s how the media want us to act
Canadian Arab News
September 3, 2008

News, like food, is something we consume every day, and what holds for the belly holds for the mind—“we are what we eat.” This analogy got me thinking about the documentary Supersize Me!, in which filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate McDonald’s fast food three times a day for a month. The heavily salted, high-fat diet affected his mental health and damaged his liver. He had to spend at least two months detoxifying.

Now, imagine a film entitled Monopolize Me! in which a whole society is fed a steady toxic monodiet of highly processed, Christian-fried, pro-business, Israeli propaganda. The citizens of such a society will become intellectually malnourished, exhibit aberrant behaviour, and run the risk of premature political death. Any similarity to Canada and the U.S. is entirely intentional, but unlike Spurlock’s experiment with toxicity, The Lobby has ensured that ours has passed the failsafe point.

First, here are the four “food groups” that constitute the bulk of the North American daily news diet:

Fear—Manufactured paranoia toward Muslims (Islamophobia) keeps us in a state of perpetual insecurity so that we will willingly accept violations to our personal freedoms, internalize zionist propaganda, and not question authority.

Infotainment—Overreporting on movies, TV, video games, sports, fashion, and the mating/marital/beauty habits of “celebrities” is a palliative narcotic that distracts us from issues that affect our lives, like the impending collapse of the North American banking system and the hijacking of our governments.

Advertorial—Advertising bumpf and “infomericials” masquerade as news to stimulate our consumer reflex to keep us spending beyond our means, thereby enriching those who control the economy and pump out fear and infotainment.

Censorship—News that might foster critical, independent thought or awaken the public is underreported, misreported, ignored or denigrated, lest the other three “foods” fail to keep us in a state of intellectual torpor.

To our news dieticians, the public is not a society to be informed; it is a potentially hostile pool of dissent that must be kept ignorant, pre-occupied and docile. Collectively, the public has immense power to effect meaningful reform, but this optimism cannot be permitted.

Despite their best efforts, though, honest reporting does manage to get out, especially if it is too conspicuous to ignore. An example is Israel’s July 2006 murder of four UN observers in Lebanon, including Canadian Maj. Hess von Kruedeners. Because the killers were Israelis, the story soon disappeared because our federal government sided with Israel.

Any sustained critical reporting is limited to specialty magazines, foreign publications, documentaries, “the alternative media” and the Internet. “Alternative media”—now there’s a weird term. The expression merely denotes difference but its connotation is closer to “eccentric” or “unreliable,” as if to say: “If the mainstream media doesn’t say so, the story can’t be true.” Yet a person is likely to learn more from blogs and the web pages of foreign newspapers.

Since our mainstream media systematically lies to us, harasses dissenting journalists, bombards us with fraud, covers up criminality, and suppresses stories of citizen activism as far as possible, then the question of eccentricity and reliability becomes moot. To take the food metaphor to its logical conclusion, CanWest, FauxNews, et al. are destroying healthy journalism by forcing us to consume politically modified (PM) news, just as Monsanto and other toxic companies are destroying agriculture with genetically modified (GM) crops.

As the following recent non-PM stories show, the ability of a group of people to effect meaningful change is quite real.

July 24, 2008—The National Court of Spain accepted a war crimes case brought by Gaza City’s Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) on behalf of six Palestinian survivors of a 2002 Israeli airstrike. Arrest warrants have been issued for six current and former Israeli politicians: former Defense Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer, former Commander of the Airforce Dan Halutz, former Chief of Staff Moshe Yalon, retired Senior General Doron Almog, and former Military Adviser Michael Herzog and former national security adviser Giora Eiland.

Acceptance of the PCHR case is the first stage toward filing a full-scale war crimes case, and it means that the six Israelis can be arrested if they step on Spanish soil. Israel is frantically trying to have the decision overturned, not because it’s wrong but because it’s right.

If a group of impoverished Gazans can bring war crimes charges against leading zionists in a court of competent jurisdiction, why can’t everyone?

Members of PAJU (Palestinians And Jews United) with their supporters hold vigil outside the Israeli consulate in Montreal located in the CIBC Tower at the corner of Peel and René Lévesque streets. This picture was taken on the seventh anniversary of the vigil, which began on Feb. 9, 2001. As a result of the vigils the consulate was shamed into moving into a high-security Israel-owned building in a Westmount shopping mall. The consulate’s move proves that citizens can effect change and that Israelis are essentially cowards who need to insulate themselves from those they tyrannize.
photo credit: PAJU

July 31, 2008—For more than seven years, 389 weeks to be precise, a group of dedicated activists in downtown Montreal staged a Friday noon-hour vigil at the Israeli Consulate in downtown Montreal. The aim was to draw attention to Israel’s apartheid regime—a fact that Danny Rubenstein, the editor of Ha’aretz newspaper, also steadfastly maintains—and the plight of Palestinians suffering under a slow, calculating genocide.

Week in and week out the protest continued until the consulate announced that it was moving to a shopping centre in ritzy Westmount. The consulate would have us believe that the move to Westmount Square had nothing to do with the protests, but was being done because of lower rent and other facilities. Officially, the consulate couldn’t stand the attention any longer and ran away to the security of an Israeli-owned building.

“It’s clear that the ongoing vigil had an impact on the decision to move the Israeli consulate,” said Daniel Saykaly, spokesman for the group Palestinians and Jews United. “Our weekly demonstrations have been highly inconvenient for the consulate. When running an apartheid government, a regular presence on the street outside educating people about Israeli apartheid is a major irritant.”

On Sept. 12, 2007, the Canadian Jewish News also admitted as much: “One advantage of the new location is that it will not be as convenient for anti-Israel demonstrators. Dorchester Square, across the street from the current building, has been the site of Friday midday vigils for more than six years, as well as other protests.”

Reporter Janice Arnold, who made this observation, must have forgotten her earlier conclusion when she wrote her Aug.14, 2008, story: “The Israeli consulate refuted [sic] the claim by a group opposed to Israeli government policies that its weekly demonstrations were a factor in the diplomatic mission’s decision to move its offices.”

All of a sudden a reporter’s dispassionate observation about the effect of a citizens protest has become a refuted “claim” made by a “group opposed to Israeli government policies.” The attempt to deny the facticity of the vigils’ influence is transparently dishonest.

Israel cannot admit that 20-30 activists successfully shamed it into moving from a busy, conspicuous downtown location into a less-accessible, suburban mall. That’s the problem with tyrants—they hate to face the people they repress so they have to hide away in remote strongholds..

After the victory, Saykaly said PAJU would move its vigils to Ste. Catherine Street at the corner of McGill College, to join members of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid in front of the Indigo bookstore.

Apart from a small story in the local Montreal Gazette, no mainstream news source covered the consulate’s move (eviction?), and none reported the court case in Spain.

We don’t have to consume a mainstream diet; we do so only out of habit or indifference. If you subscribe to the outmoded idea that the media should foster an enlightened citizenry and that citizens have power, unplug yourself from the mainstream matrix. It’s your only alternative.